“The delays are due to someone who couldn’t be bothered to live anymore.” – this was the announcement made by a railway staff member on a train at a major London station a couple of months ago. This article is followed by a series of remarks that are equally astounding yet truly reflecting some of the attitudes that exist in our society. Words like ‘selfish’, ‘uncaring’ and ‘an inconvenience’ were strewn around, to name a few.
This reminds me of the conversation between a volunteer of Papyrus and a government minister. The lobbyist said, ”Isn’t the rise in suicide rate really outrageous?” The MP replied, ”Yes. I was delayed by 40 minutes today.”
Clearly, a lot of work needs to be done. There are three key attributes of people that are important – knowledge, skills and attitudes. Guess which one is the hardest to change. Yes. Attitudes. It could take generations. There is scientific evidence that it is not at all easy to modify stigmatising opinions. Hence, efforts to reduce stigma and its damaging impact on people with mental illness will need to be combined with an effort to reduce discrimination. For instance dying from cancer or heart disease is not considered ‘selfish’ or ‘inconsiderate’ in any way.
My friends and I are walking 25 kilometers next month to raise awareness and reduce stigma against mental illness and suicide.